San Antonio, Texas-The final training session before first round cuts for the USA U18 National Team took place Sunday morning with 16 out of 23 players making the first round cut. After another week of practice, the squad will be reduced to 12 players who will compete against Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Bahamas in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship beginning June 28. J.J. Hickson came out strong Sunday morning, ensuring a spot in the top 16.
With only 20 minutes of running clock scrimmage time for players to make one last claim for a spot on the roster, Hickson scored 9 points on a couple high level post moves and a three-pointer. Hickson, who also snagged 4 rebounds, has elevated his level of play in each successive practice session.
Michael Beasley matched Hickson's intensity in the low post, scoring 9 points as well on an array of post moves.
The only player to hit double figures was Nolan Smith, who was coming off a strong performance last night. Smith hit for 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting.
Taylor King forced some shots and only connected on 2 of 8 from the field while also going 0 for 4 from the three-point line. King, however, was strong on the glass, recording 5 rebounds, behind only Cole Aldrich and Blake Griffin's 6 rebounds each. King also dished out a morning high 5 assists without committing a turnover.
Stanley Robinson, another standout from the morning session, scored 7 points on 3 of 5 shooting and was very active on defense.
Having another strong all around performance, Kyle Singler had the play of the morning when he blocked a dunk attempt by Spencer Hawes. Singler also scored 5 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 2 assists to 0 turnovers.
The 16 players who will compete for the final 12 spots on the roster are: